I let my dentist remove a wisdom tooth in late July because he said he had removed countless uncomplicated cases. He said he would refer me to an oral surgeon if the case looked complex. My gums closed over the sockets in about three weeks. I feel earaches and eye pain on the left side of my face. I returned to the dentist last, and he admitted that the problem could be from a tooth fragment that he could not remove. He said he could refer me to an oral surgeon if the pain didn’t improve by the end of the month. Why would the pain suddenly improve without any intervention? Should I ask for a referral now or try to get a same-day appointment with another dentist? – Thanks. Chandler from Cincinnati, OH
We understand your concerns about the leftover wisdom tooth fragment and your symptoms of an infection.
If a large piece of a tooth or root remains after extraction, your gums can heal over it. Still, leaving the fragment in your jaw can lead to a post-operative infection. However, post-operative infections generally occur with an impacted wisdom tooth that was already infected.
What If a Piece of Wisdom Is Left After an Extraction?
If a piece of wisdom tooth is left after extraction, the size and location of the fragment determine a dentist’s next steps. A dentist may leave a small root tip near a nerve or the sinus due to the risk of removing it. If a large piece of the root remains, a dentist should remove it or refer you to an oral surgeon for removal. In either case, a dentist should tell you if part of the tooth remains.
Although your case may not be appropriate for a same-day dental appointment, you can get a second opinion from a dentist with oral surgery skills. Also, you can ask your current dentist for a referral to an oral surgeon to examine your X-ray and complete the extraction. Depending on your complications and how much of the tooth was left, you may ask your dentist for a refund.
David Finley, DDS, a Monroe, Louisiana, dentist and Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, sponsors this post. Read about what Dr. Finley, Dr. Thompson, and Dr. Coughran do to provide some of the best dental care in Monroe.